by Phil Boatwright

Brave is a Disney Pixar animated adventure about teenage princess Merida, a skilled archer and headstrong daughter of King Fergus and Queen Eleanor. Determined to carve her own path in life, Merida defies an age-old custom amid the uproarious lords of the land. Merida’s actions inadvertently unleash chaos and fury in the kingdom, and when she turns to an eccentric witch for help, she is granted an ill-fated wish. The ensuing peril forces Merida to harness all of her skills and resources – including her clever and mischievous triplet brothers – to undo a beastly curse before it’s too late.

Disney and Pixar still reign as kings of animation. It isn’t just that they have all the loot necessary to bring their stories to vivid life. They also have most of the creativity found in Hollywoodland. Their writers and filmmakers possess a winning combination of whimsy and potent story-telling ability that seems to escape most filmmakers of today, no matter the genre. While so many in the film industry are unable to tell today’s stories without crudity and excess, Disney and Pixar, knowing they are aiming at the family, use wit rather than shock value to get our laughs and our involvement.

From its lively score to the animation process to the vocal characterizations to the wit (occasionally bawdy, but never crude), Disney and Pixar have fashioned a feel-good movie for the family.

I must add a warning. In keeping with the tradition of Disney fairytales, there’s a witch, and our heroine asks her to cast spell on her mother so it will change the daughter’s fate. It’s part of the parable, one in which the girl learns life lessons. Also, we see a the bared bottoms of three little boys. To me it seemed harmless and got the film’s biggest laughs. Again, I felt this sequence was bawdy, but not crude. Still, some will be frustrated that even Disney cartoons contain nudity these days. You’ve been warned.

Rated PG, Brave comes in a 5-disc ultimate collector’s set, with a Blu-ray, a Blu Ray 3D a DVD and a Digital copy, along with scads of extras.

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